Why Can’t Worker Ants Reproduce?
Whether worker ants can reproduce depends on a number of factors. This includes the type of ant and the species it is found in. The lifespan of an ant also varies. It can range from one to six months. In some species, the queen is noticeably larger than the workers.
Ants also undergo metamorphosis. After hatching, the larva is cream-colored and looks like a young ant. When it is fully developed, the larva transforms into a pupa. The pupa has folded antennae. It is dependent on adults for food. The pupa is also larger than workers that tend to it.
The queen controls the reproductive process of an ant colony. It lays new eggs continuously after the colony is established. If the queen dies, the ant colony dies. In other cases, the workers take care of the colony. They collect and dispose of waste. They also help to police conflicts within the colony.
The reproductive division of labour in social insects is an important aspect of evolutionary change. Most ants have evolved reduced reproductive organs, so that the majority of females do not lay eggs. In some species, the queen can live for decades. However, in other species, the queen has lost all of her reproductive organs.
These reproductive constraints are adaptive, meaning that they are geared towards fulfilling alternative functions. For instance, if a queen is killed, some workers may be able to produce males. This could further strengthen social harmony.